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Nov 19, 2013 11:12 AM EST

The Bigger The Nose The Manlier The Man: Males Tend To Have Bigger Noses Than Females

Nose size comparison
(Photo : flickr.com) Though the man is larger than the woman, his nose is even larger by comparison.

Males have disproportionately larger noses than females (at least those of European descent) - not because they tend to be larger overall, but because of how muscle is distributed differently between men and women, NBC News reported.  

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A study out of the University of Iowa found that male noses of European descent are 10 percent larger than female noses. Since men are generally composed of more lean muscle, which requires more oxygen and energy for growth and maintanence than fat, they've adopted a plus-size schnoz through the process of natural selection, according to Science Daily.

"As body size increases in males and females during growth, males exhibit a disproportionate increase in nasal size," said study lead author Nathan Holton, a biological anthropologist at the University of Iowa. "This follows the same pattern as energetic variables such as oxygen consumption."

Like many differences between men and women, changes in nose size become significant after the age of 11, or after puberty. At that point, boys are more likely to increase their body weight through muscle than girls. As per past research, 95 percent of new body mass in transitioning males comes from muscle whereas muscle accounts for 85 percent of new body mass in transitioning females, Science Daily reported.

Lead author and assistant professor in the UI College of Dentistry Nathan Holton said the relationship between nose size and muscle mass has been discussed before, but never in a longitudinal, or long term study, like his current work.

Holton and colleagues tracked the nose growth of 38 individuals with European bloodlines (Holton believes the research will translate to other races, too) from the age of three to their mid-twenties, Science Daily reported. Between three and eleven, noses showed no difference across sex. After 11, male noses grew exponentially larger, "even if the body size is the same," Holton said.

The research alters our perspective of the nose, Science Daily pointed out, from a fixture in the middle of our face to an "extension of the lungs."

"So, in that sense, we can think of it as being independent of the skull, and more closely tied with non-cranial aspects of anatomy," Holton said.

X-Rays from the study show how researchers measured nose size (both externally and internally). Photo courtesy of uiowa.edu
X-Rays from the study show how researchers measured nose size (both externally and internally). Photo courtesy of uiowa.edu

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